Thanksgiving and Christmas time brings a lot of happiness to us all. Families and friends gathering together, bringing their favorite dishes and booze to add to the cheer. Someone always has to bring grandma’s famous stuffing and green bean casserole too. Not to mention all the delicious cakes and pies that come through. Although it’s been tradition to stuff our faces and drink till we are all very merry. It’s about time that traditions be shifted to healthier habits and dishes. The things we associate with holidays, like grandma’s famous casserole and pie, prevent progress, cause weight gain, and ultimately excuses. I want you to think about how hard you have worked up to this point. Is that one minute of joy that comes from eating these sugar and fat filled items worth throwing away last months progress? I think I can speak for my clients and say thats a big NO! I’m not saying that you can’t indulge in a little holiday cheer, all I am saying is that I want you to think before you eat. This is why I am here today writing to you; to give you advice and tricks to beat that holiday belly.
Be conscious of what you are putting onto your plate. Avoid the rolls and very saucey items, as they will add up quickly in calories. Instead pile on the veggies. Vegetables are loaded with fiber and tend to make you full faster, so eat them first.
Consider grabbing a smaller plate, rather then the huge paper plates, made specifically for thanksgiving and big feasts. This way you have less room for bad foods. And It allows you to be more choosy on the foods you decide to put on that plate.
Always go for the turkey or chicken. These are the leaner meats that will provide you with your protein requirements for the day, without all the extra fat.
Enjoy dessert in small doses. The one a day rule should definitely be put in affect at least. If you just can’t resist the desserts, then enjoy a small portion of dessert, ONE time a day, during the holidays. This allows you to get your sugar craving satisfied, but ensures that you don’t go overboard.
Take your time while eating, focus more on conversation. When you eat too fast your body doesn’t have sufficient amount of time to register that its full. This is when you go back for seconds and overeat, becoming a stuffed turkey yourself. All of these extra calories you consume in that second round of binge eating will be stored as fat, and not in the places you want.
Snack before the big feast. If you eat breakfast and have a snack before a big feast, you don’t overeat as much as you would, if you came to the feast starving. When you starve yourself, your body's metabolism slows down to reserve energy storage as well. This means that your body will store fat, rather then use it as energy during this time. So when you scarf down a huge meal, most of that food will then be stored as fat on those bellies and thighs of yours for later use.
Don’t give in to the soda and the higher sugar containing alcoholic beverages. When choosing drinks try to stick with water or unsweet tea. A least drink one glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage if you decide to drink alcohol. And when choosing alcoholic beverages stick with the lower calorie choices such as vodka, red wine, 100% agave tequila.
Avoid standing around the food. When the food is in front of us, we WILL eat it. Sometimes it is even subconscious to eat chips and salsa when its placed in front of us. So take conversations to the other room or outside so that we don’t subconsciously sabotage ourselves.
Be creative with your recipes. If you truly love your family and friends then you want everyone to live a happy and healthy life right? So why not share your new found healthy lifestyle with them by bringing one of your favorite healthy dishes or try cooking a new one. Or the least you can do is modify your traditional dishes to make them healthier. A good example of this would be substituting butter with olive oil or sugar with stevia.
Stay active. Invite your family/friends on a hike or walk at your nearby park. This is a great way to get everyone away from the food and from being glued to the tv. In the past my family has had kickball and softball games in the backyard or at the neighborhood park. This was always such a great time full of laughs. It’s not just you that needs to stay active during this time. Your family could use a little extra push to get off that couch too. And the memories you will make during these active times together will be something to cherish for years to come.
The most important part of the holidays will always be getting together with those we love and being thankful for all that we have. By introducing new and healthy habits into our old traditions, we guarantee that our families will stay healthy and happy during these times and for many years to come.
Kaley Hallowich NCSF CPT NCCPT BS MS